Author(s): AimSemp C, Folliguet T, RckerMartin C, Krajewska M, Krajewska S,
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: The aim of the present study was to determine if myocytes can die by apoptosis in fibrillating and dilated human atria. BACKGROUND: The cellular remodeling that occurs during atrial fibrillation (AF) may reflect a degree of dedifferentiation of the atrial myocardium, a process that may be reversible. METHODS: We examined human right atrial myocardium specimens (n = 50) for the presence of apoptotic myocytes. We used immunohistochemical and Western blotting analysis to examine the expression of a final effector of programmed cell death, caspase-3 (CASP-3) and of regulatory proteins from the BCL-2 family. RESULTS: Sections from atria in AF contained a high percentage of large myocytes with a disrupted sarcomeric apparatus replaced by glycogen granules (64.4 +/- 6.3\% vs. 12.2 +/- 5.8\%). These abnormal myocytes, which also predominated in atria from hearts with decreased left ventricular ejection fraction (42.3 +/- 10.1\%), contained large nuclei, most of which were TUNEL positive, indicating a degree of DNA breakage. None of these abnormal myocytes expressed the proliferative antigen Ki-67. A small percentage of the enlarged nuclei (4.2 +/- 0.8\%) contained condensed chromatin and were strongly TUNEL positive. Both the pro- and activated forms of CASP-3 were detected in diseased myocardial samples, which also showed stronger CASP-3 expression than controls. Expression of the antiapoptotic BCL-2 protein was decreased in diseased atria, whereas that of the proapoptotic BAX protein remained unchanged. CONCLUSIONS: In fibrillating and dilated atria, apoptotic death of myocytes with myolysis contributes to cellular remodeling, which may not be entirely reversible.
This article was published in J Am Coll Cardiol
and referenced in Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine